Parshas Behaaloscha

This weeks Parsha is Parshas Behaaloscha. In the beginning of the Parsha, the Torah describes the consecration of the Levites. Hashem chose the Levites, who hadn’t served the Golden Calf, to replace the first born Israelites and to serve Him in the Temple. The process of consecrating them was very extensive and detailed. One of the steps in this process involved Aaron (the High Priest) physically lifting and “waving” each one of the twenty two thousand Levites on this one day. (Numbers 8:11) They had to be “waved”, or moved up and down, and across.

The Medrash tells us that one of the reasons Aaron was called a Cohen Gadol (Great) was because he was very strong. The Medrash says that we see this from the fact that he was able to lift all the Levites in one day.

Rav Chaim Shmulevitz, the late dean of the Mirrer Yeshiva in Jerusalem, asked two questions:

1) Why should the High Priest have to be strong? What significance is it in the greatness of a person if he is physically strong or not?
2) Even if Aaron was the strongest person in the world, it would be physically impossible for him to lift and wave twenty two thousand Levites in one day. Even to lift and wave that many chickens would only allow three seconds per chicken!!! Certainly it was impossible to lift and wave that many people in one day. Indeed, the Chizkuni tells us that the lifting of the Levites in one day by one person was a miracle. If so, however, what is the proof from this episode that Aaron was so strong? Perhaps he was really very weak, but Hashem made a miracle that enabled him to pick them up?

Rav Shmulevitz explained that a strong person doesn’t simply refer to a person with a lot of muscles. “Who is strong one who overcomes his desires” (Ethics of the Fathers 4:1). A strong person is one who gathers all his stamina and challenges. True, Aaron could not lift the Levites without the help of Hashem. However, this help only came because Aaron tried with all his strength to do the mitzvah he was given.

The lesson that Aaron taught us is so important. When in the course of life we come across challenges, our job is to give it all our strength to overcome them. We must not give up. When we really try, with all our might, Hashem will give us the help we need to overcome them.